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Türkiye draws over 7M foreign tourists in Q1, sees revenues hit $8.8B

Türkiye drew more than 7 million foreign visitors in the first quarter of the year, according to official data on Tuesday that also showed robust arrivals fueled a 5.4% increase in tourism revenue.

The number of foreign tourists arriving from January through March climbed 13.37% year-over-year, Culture and Tourism Ministry data showed.

Combined with the arrival of nearly 2 million Turkish citizens living abroad, the total number of tourists reached more than 9 million, according to the data.

Separate data from the country’s statistical office showed tourism revenues surged by 5.4% year-over-year to $8.8 billion (TL 284.94 billion) in the first quarter of the year.

The arrivals were spearheaded by trips from Iran, Germany and Russia, whose citizens reserved the top three spots between January and March.

The number of foreign visitors in March alone increased by 15.65% to 2.7 million, according to Culture and Tourism Ministry data.

Among the countries that sent the most visitors in the month, Germany ranked first with 357,296 people, Iran was second with 309,654 and Russia ranked third with 248,485 people.

Evaluating the first-quarter data, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told reporters at the news conference in Istanbul that within the scope of the revision made in tourism statistics in 2022, Interbank Card Center (BKM) and health tourism research results have been integrated into the system.

Moreover, he said that as part of the revision, the data on same-day visitors received from the General Directorate of Security started to be used, calculations were made according to the type of border gate (water, rail, air, road) the visitors used and the sampling design was updated.

As a result, the revisions planned for tourism income and expenditure have been completed, and the revision has been implemented from 2012 to 2023.

Delving into data, Ersoy noted the total number of visitors in the January-March period rose by 16.7% to 9.07 million, compared to 7.77 million in the same period last year and 6.3 million a year earlier.

Rising revenues

“Last year’s first quarter revenue was revised to $8.3 billion. We see that the realizations are in line with our target of $60 billion for this year. In the first quarter, we achieved the highest first-quarter tourism income in our history,” he said.

Türkiye welcomed around 49.2 million foreign tourists in 2023, a year officials dubbed the best year ever for the industry, a critical revenue source for the country seeking to curb its chronic current account deficit. Combined with nearly 7.5 million Turkish citizens living abroad, the number of visitors rose to 56.7 million.

This year, the government sees arrivals picking up to 60 million and revenues amounting to $60 billion.

In the first three months of 2024, the highest number of visitors came from Iran with 748,000, followed by 688,000 from Germany and 682,000 from Russia, the minister informed, attributing the arrivals of Iranians to Newruz celebrations, adding that the composition in the top countries might change in upcoming quarters, with Britons likely emerging among top three on the list.

Stating that the average length of stay was 11.1 days in the first three months, Ersoy said that the year-end target was 9.7, adding that the current data suggested they were moving in line with this.

When looking at the per capita overnight income in the first quarter, the minister said this figure was realized at $93 compared to $84 in the same period last year, conveying that the year-end target is $103. Ersoy noted the average expenditure per night was registered as the highest in the history of the republic.

Meanwhile, the average expenditure per person was $975 during the first quarter, down 4.3% on a yearly basis, the data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) showed.

Moreover, as part of his evaluations, Ersoy said that despite last year’s devastating earthquakes and the negative impacts of the ongoing Israel-Palestine war, Türkiye is moving on accelerating to catch the stated targets.

In this regard, he emphasized the importance of products and market diversification and conducted promotion activities as he provided insight into the growth observed in the markets classified as target markets.

“We had an average growth target of 15% for the Scandinavian market, and it realized at 25%. In Asia-Oceania the target was 54%, while the growth of 63% was achieved. In North America the growth was realized at 19%, here too, the target was 17%,” he explained.

As part of the promotion, the minister evaluated the activities across various channels, including TV channels and social media, over the airlines and underscored Türkiye with its account “GoTürkiye,” has emerged as the second one with the most users across platforms.

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